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Preaching Biblical Justice 

To Nurture the Faith That Does It 

Dennis Hamm, S J. 


29/1 JANUARY 1997 


A group of Jesuits appointed from their provinces in the United States. 

The Seminar studies topics pertaining to the spiritual doctrine and 
practice of Jesuits, especially American Jesuits, and communicates the results to 
the members of the provinces. This is done in the spirit of Vatican II's recom- 
mendation that religious institutes recapture the original inspiration of their 
founders and adapt it to the circumstances of modern times. The Seminar wel- 
comes reactions or comments in regard to the material that it publishes. 

The Seminar focuses its direct attention on the life and work of the 
Jesuits of the United States. The issues treated may be common also to Jesuits 
of other regions, to other priests, religious, and laity, to both men and women. 
Hence, the studies, while meant especially for American Jesuits, are not exclu- 
sively for them. Others who may find them helpful are cordially welcome to 
read them. 


Peter D. Byrne, S.J., is presently engaged in a sabbatical program after serving as 
rector and president of St. Michael's Institute in Spokane, Wash. (1994). 

Francis X. Clooney, S.J., teaches comparative theology at Boston College, 
Chestnut Hill, Mass. (1994). 

Ernest C. Ferlita, S.J., teaches theater at Loyola University, New Orleans, La. 

Gerald P. Fogarty, S.J., teaches history in the department of religious studies at 
the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va. (1995). 

M. Dennis Hamm, S.J., teaches Scripture at Creighton University, Omaha, Neb. 

John P. Langan, S.J., is visiting professor of philosophy at Loyola University, 
Chicago, 111. (1996). 

John W. Padberg, S.J., is chairman of the Seminar, editor of STUDIES, and direc- 
tor and editor at the Institute of Jesuit Sources (1986). 

Clement J. Petrik, S.J., is assistant to the provincial of the Maryland Province 
for pastoral ministries (1995). 

Carl F. Starkloff, S.J., teaches theology at Regis College, Toronto, Canada 

James S. Torrens, S.J., is an associate editor of America in New York (1996). 

The opinions expressed in STUDIES are those of the individual authors thereof. Parenthe- 
ses designate year of entry as a Seminar member. 

Copyright © 1997 and published by the Seminar on Jesuit Spirituality 
3700 West Pme Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 
(Tel. 314-977-7257; Fax 314-977-7263) 

Preaching Biblical Justice 

To Nurture the Faith That Does It 

Dennis Hamm, SJ. 


29/1 • JANUARY 1997 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 

For your information . . . 

Any Jesuit interested in how we communicate with each other and with the 
world in which we work will discover in 1997 abundant material to remember and 
to use. 

To start with remembrance, Peter Canisius, the very first Jesuit to publish a 
book, the most modern means of communication of his day, died just four hundred 
years ago, in 1597. That book, an edition of the works of Johann Tauler, the great 
German Dominican mystic, appeared in 1543, while Canisius was still a novice. And 
then in 1546 he published a new edition of St. Cyril of Alexandria. By then he had 
another first to his credit. He and his eight young companions in Cologne, fledgling 
Jesuits, had inadvertently contravened the regulations of the Cologne city fathers that 
forbade setting up any new religious houses in the city, where there were so many 
such tax-exempt institutions already in existence. So, Canisius and his companions 
were out of their house in the summer of 1544 by order of the Cologne Senate, the 
very first Jesuits "to be honored," as Brodrick says in his biography of Canisius, 
"with that decree of expulsion which would become a commonplace in his Society's 
history." A series of exhibitions and publications, especially in the Netherlands, 
Canisius's native country, and in Germany, the sphere of most of his apostolate, will 
celebrate this fourth centenary. Sometime later we may (no promises yet) have the 
opportunity to publish in English a selection of his writings. 

Canisius is inextricably linked with another Peter, this one named Pierre 
Favre, who first directed him in the Spiritual Exercises and then received him into 
the Society in 1543 at the age of twenty-two. Later Canisius was to refer to his 
mentor as a "man of such shining holiness." (Canisius's stepmother waxed wroth 
because Favre, whom she called a "vagabond foreigner," had "stolen" her stepson, 
and Favre had to write a conciliatory letter to her.) In March of this year, for 
remembrance but much more for present use, The Spiritual Writings of Pierre Favre 
will appear as the most recent book from the Institute of Jesuit Sources. It bears the 
publication year of 1996, the 450th anniversary of the death of Favre. The volume 
contains in English translation both the Memoriale or autobiography/diary and more 
than two dozen of Favre's spiritual letters, in addition to a lengthy introduction. 
This book has been slow to appear, but Favre would surely understand; it took some 
three hundred years before the Memoriale was even privately published in Latin in 
1853, and twenty more years before Favre was beatified in 1872 and a modern- 
language edition (in French in 1874) came out. Forty more years elapsed before the 
publication of his complete works and another sixty-five before preparation could 
begin on this present volume, which contains the first translation of the Memoriale 
into English and the first translation into any vernacular language of almost all of the 
letters in this book. 

Letters summon up another instance of communication in the Society: the 
two men most responsible for its practice from our earliest years, Ignatius of Loyola 


and Juan Polanco, and a CD-ROM, the latest instance of such communication. The 
computer disk far exceeds what they could ever have imagined and, we can hope, 
will prove most useful for the present day. This year marks the 450th anniversary of 
Juan Polanco's appointment as personal secretary to Ignatius of Loyola. Until 
Polanco took on this responsibility, Ignatius was making little progress in writing the 
Constitutions, and his injunction, now found in [673] of that document, that Jesuits 
should frequently communicate with one another by letter Ignatius himself would 
never have implemented to such an exemplary degree. For with Polanco's aid he was 
able to pen the almost seven thousand letters that are still extant. The Society owes 
Polanco a great debt in this regard. In recognition thereof, his name has been given 
to the new CD-ROM that contains in their original language on a single such disk all 
of the writings of Ignatius. This means both his major works (for example, the 
Spiritual Exercises, the Constitutions, the Spiritual Diary, and the Autobiography, along 
with his lesser works, such as the "Deliberations on Poverty" and the "Common 
Rules") and all of his letters. The Institute of Jesuit Sources produced the disk and 
will make it available for purchase within a month of this issue of STUDIES. 

The project could never even have begun without the extraordinary work 
of Father Roberto Busa, S.J., the world-renowned Italian expert in the literary and 
linguistic uses of the computer. It is he who, starting with punched cards almost fifty 
years ago and progressing to electronic bits and bytes, produced the Index Thomisti- 
cus, the compilation of all the works of Thomas Aquinas. He provided for us in 
computer-ready form the corpus of Ignatius's writings. To him we owe an immense 
debt of gratitude. And the data-base manager or search engine to make those writings 
available for the Polanco disk was produced by Mr. Thomas Schwarz, S.J., of the 
California Province, a scholar, mathematician, and professional computer expert. To 
him, too, our thanks are due for countless hours of work and high professional 

The international and interprovincial character of the project is further 
made evident in that Dr. Manfred Thaller of the Max Planck Institut at Gottingen in 
Germany did the first basic research on such a computer program for the text, the 
late Father Joseph Hopkins of the Detroit Province carried it on back here in the 
United States, and Father Martin O'Keefe of the Missouri Province, a staff member 
of the IJS, managed the details of producing the CD and its manual. Once you use the 
CD, let us know any suggestions for improvement that occur to you for the next 
version. (For instance, if we can get copyright clearance, I would like to put on the 
same disk translations into English, Spanish, French, German, and Italian of Igna- 
tius's major works. But please do not hold your breath; even if it is possible to 
obtain all requisite permissions, it will take a good amount of time to implement the 

To return to communication by books, one from IJS and one from a 
university press, in between the book containing the Constitutions and Norms, a 
copy of which all United States Jesuits received, and the CD-ROM of the writings of 
Ignatius, the IJS published Terpsichore at Louis-le-Grand: Baroque Dance on the Jesuit 
Stage in Paris. For better than a century, at the Paris school which was perhaps the 
greatest such institution the pre-Suppression Society ever conducted, the students 
annually presented for the demanding Parisian public between one and four ballets. If 


anything, this should give inspiration to present artistic endeavors in our schools and 
encourage even more such activities. The other volume, published by Stanford 
University Press, is entitled The Making of an Enterprise: The Society of Jesus in 
Portugal, Its Empire and Beyond, 1540-1750. The book in its seven hundred pages is 
worthy of the enterprise. It is a truly scholarly, informative, and fascinating account 
of one of the greatest stories in Jesuit history, how the Jesuits of the very first 
province of the Society took on a missionary enterprise that ranged from Japan, 
Indonesia, and India to Brazil, how they carried it out with the courage of idealism, 
the pettiness of daily realities, the generosity of personnel, the ambiguities of money 
and slavery, the success and failures of two centuries. The author, Dauril Alden, a 
professor at the University of Washington, says in his preface to the book, "I bear no 
religious affiliation and hold no brief for or against the Jesuits or any other religious 
body. Yet I confess that one of the reasons why I chose to study the Jesuits was to 
challenge my own sense of scholarly objectivity." After more than two decades of 
work with "research on four continents in more than thirty-five archives and in 
general and specialized libraries, both public and private," he has more than lived up 
to the challenge he set himself. It would be hard to imagine how the history of any 
single Jesuit province's enterprise could be any more carefully and interestingly 
portrayed. To Dr. Alden, too, we owe heartfelt thanks. I do not know whether he 
had this in mind when he published the book, but he has presented the Portuguese 
Province with a splendid present for its 450th birthday anniversary in 1996. 

Lest you think that the story told in The Making of an Enterprise is all 
solemnity and generality, let me assure you that the particular, the piquant, and the 
human detail are appropriately evident. To note just two instances: swimming and 
tobacco. It was not our more recent generals who first concerned themselves with the 
former detail. Aquaviva wanted it stopped in India, but Valignano in 1586 replied 
that it was a very hot country and at best the Jesuits only took "an occasional 
discreet dip in a stream." As for the use of tobacco, generals from Vitelleschi to 
Nickel discouraged or forbade it. The former described it as "pernicious to body and 
soul," and under Carafa "violators were threatened with public flagellation for the 
length of a De profundi*." But a Jesuit household account of the 1750s shows that one 
superior of the professed house in Goa may have had a very considerable habit— "as 
much as 1.8 kilograms [almost 4 pounds] a month." Oh, for the good old days! 

John W. Padberg, SJ. 

Martin E. Palmer, S.J. 

On Giving the Spiritual Exercises 

The Early Jesuit Manuscript Directories 

and the Official Directory of 1599 

Granted that the basic manual for giving the Spiritual Exercises of 
St. Ignatius was always the book of the Exercises itself, Ignatius, his 
associates, and their successors all realized that on many points fuller 
explanation was needed. This need they met with the Directories 
translated by Fr. Palmer in this book. 

It gives us all the supplementary guidelines for giving the Exercises 
which derive from St. Ignatius and other 16th-century Jesuits. Much 
of the material survived only in manuscript form until the last century, 
and appears here in English for the first time. The documents range 
from a simple page of notes by St. Peter Canisius to a full-scale 
handbook by Ignatius's Secretary and long-time collaborator, 
Juan de Polanco. The book concludes with a fresh translation of the 
comprehensive Directory to the Spiritual Exercises published for the 
use of Jesuits in 1599, which served for over three centuries as the 
official guidebook to giving the Exercises. 

For those involved with today's rapid growth in individually directed 
Ignatian retreats, these texts offer unparalleled insight into the original 
practice of the Exercises under St. Ignatius and his associates. 
Spiritual directors, retreat directors, and students of the Spiritual 
Exercises as well as of religious thought in general will not want to be 
without this book. 

Cloth: ISBN 1-880810-17-4 ♦ $42.95 

Paper: ISBN 1-880810-18-2 ♦ $34.95 

Series I, n.14 ♦ 1996 ♦ PP. ca 380+ 


Preachers by Vocation 1 

Our Situation as Preachers 3 

Four Movements toward Preaching Biblical Justice 6 

1. One Part-Time Preacher's Story 6 

2. Biblical Justice 9 

3. Preaching Biblical Justice: Some Sample Efforts 16 

An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Blind 16 

Regarding War: Who Is Your Teacher? 20 

Do Americans Need a King? 22 

A Clash of Symbols: The Ass Confronts the Palm Branches 25 

The Lamb Takes Away Sin? How? When? 26 

4. Some Conclusions 29 

Afterthoughts 33 


Preaching Biblical Justice 

To Nurture the Faith That Does It 

Preachers by Vocation 

Though we do not call ourselves the Order of Preachers (an elder 
brother already bears that name), we have been an order of preachers 
from our beginnings. After his own adult conversion, Ignatius 's first 
and constant impulse was to engage others in what has been called the 
conversational word of God, a kind of informal, one-on-one preaching. 
Later, when the ten companions of Paris put together their mission state- 
ment, the Formula of the Institute, in their description of the means by 
which they would "propagate and defend the faith and help souls progress in 
Christian life and doctrine," they placed public preaching at the head of the 
list. Even after the energies of the early Society were deeply engaged in the 
ministry of the schools, preaching continued to be a prominent ministry. 
John O'Malley's resume of this activity sketches a picture of the early Jesuits 
(brothers and scholastics as well as priests) preaching at every opportunity: 
"in public squares and markets, in hospitals, in prisons, aboard ships in dock, 
in fortresses, on playing fields, in hospices or hostels, in confraternities." 1 

The better to move their audiences, scholastics were asked to study 
the classic rhetoricians and the best that the current literary curriculum had 
to offer. Indeed, Peter Canisius could write in 1548 that the principal reason 
for the years of study enjoined upon members of the Society was to make 

1 John W. O'Malley, S.J., sketches the range of preaching in the early Society in 
"Ministries of the Word of God," chapter 3 of The First Jesuits (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard 
University, 1993), 91-104. 

Dennis Hamm, S.J. (WIS), is currently a member of the Seminar on Jesuit Spirituality 
and a member of the faculty in the department of theology at Creighton University, Omaha, where 
he teaches Sacred Scripture. He recently began to write for America, the national Jesuit magazine, the 
weekly column of reflections on the scripture readings for the liturgical year entitled "The Word. " 
Father Hamm's address is Creighton University, 2500 California Plaza, Omaha, NE 68178. 

Dennis Hamm, SJ. 

them effective preachers. The purpose was not so much to instruct as to 
move to conversion. And the content was the word of God, the word not 
only as mediated by Scripture and tradition but also as the fruit of experi- 
ence and prayer. We are aware that the Jesuit churches of the Baroque 
period, with elaborate pulpits distant from the altar but much closer to the 
congregation, were designed especially with an eye (and an ear) to preaching. 
And we know that we stand in a tradition of famous preachers, ranging 
from the likes of Paolo Segneri, sometimes dubbed the John Wesley of the 
seventeenth century, who for twenty-seven years walked barefoot some eight 
hundred miles a year preaching from village to village in central Italy, 2 to 
our contemporary, Walter Burghardt, the sole Roman Catholic named in a 
recent list of the dozen best preachers in English. 3 While we Jesuits still 
benefit from a reputation as preachers who bring care and intelligence into 
the pulpit, it seems to me that for the most part we have overlooked an 
opportunity for growth in this ministry— the preaching of justice. 

At General Congregation 34, we Jesuits roundly recommitted 
ourselves to the promotion of justice as an integral part of our mission 
today. However difficult it may be for some of us to understand how to 
implement that aspect of our mission in our ordinary work, the fact is that 
most of us (the priests among us) are ordained to preach. I suggest that right 
there, in that privileged moment of the ministry of the word— preaching — we 
have a powerful opportunity to nurture the faith that does justice. I suggest 
further that when we grasp the full range of the biblical theme of justice, the 
Scriptures open themselves in some fresh ways that will help us to both 
console and challenge those with whom we share that word. 


Our Situation as Preachers 

he current challenge to preach justice invites us to reflect afresh on 
our role as preachers. We do something amazing in that pulpit: we 
claim that these ancient documents, written two to three thousand 

2 William V. Bangert, S.J., A History of the Society of Jesus (St. Louis: Institute of 
Jesuit Sources, 1972), 191. 

3 I should mention here that it was my participation as a member of the team 
on several of Father Walter Burghardt's "Preaching the Just Word" retreats that occasioned 
much of the reflection contained in this essay. "Preaching the Just Word" is a five-day 
retreat/workshop to help preachers integrate the social teaching of the Church into their 
weekend homily. For further information on this program, contact Rev. Ray Kemp, 
Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057; tele. 
[202] 687-3532; fax [202] 687-5835. 

Preaching Biblical Justice *V 3 

years ago in cultures quite different from our own, hold the key to the 
meaning of our contemporary lives. We base this claim on the conviction 
that there is a continuity between Israel's experience of God, the early 
Christians' experience of that same God in Jesus of Nazareth, and our 
ordinary lives as U.S. Catholics at the end of the second millennium. When 
we do this, we step into a long and venerable stream of interpretation that 
could be sketched as follows: 

1. The work of Israelite song writers, sages, archivists, prophets, 
priests, lawmakers, and editors (some twelve hundred years) 

2. The words and work of Jesus— Jewish layperson, prophet, reformer, 
Messiah! Son of God!— (one to three years) 

3. The early church documents we call the New Testament (some 
seventy years) 

4. Patristic writings, especially Augustine (four hundred years) 

5. The medieval tradition, culminating powerfully in the synthesis of 
Aquinas (eight hundred years) 

6. The Scholastic tradition, and 

7. The special contribution made by the magisterium during the past 
century (papal, conciliar, and episcopal) 

We dare— because we have been sacramentally mandated so to 
dare— to stand in that stream of interpretation and declare what the readings 
of the day have to say to this present community. We publicly interpret that 
ancient tradition in order to understand life, God, and the world and to 
proclaim what that interpretation means for us as we move through today 
and tomorrow. 

This situation makes the preacher of the Sunday-morning homily 
the most important interpreter of Scripture. I don't mean to imply that we 
outclass the Pope and the bishops as teachers in the Church. I mean, rather, 
to underscore the simple fact that our congregations hear the Bible inter- 
preted mainly on Sundays, which means that we who preach are de facto 
the most important interpreters of Scripture in their lives. 

If many of us are not entirely at home in this role, we have good 
reasons for this discomfort. The biblical homily was not part of the culture 
in which most of us were raised. When I was growing up, Protestant 
ministers preached Scripture; Catholic priests preached doctrine. The fruits 
of the renascence of biblical study, spurred by Divino afflante Spiritu in 1943, 
have only slowly been assimilated into seminary curricula and accessible 

4 •*■ Dennis Hamm, S.J. 

commentaries. 4 Only in the past thirty years has this scholarship really 
begun to influence the language of church documents and catechetical tools. 
Most priests take only a handful of biblical courses and, in many cases, they 
usually live out a professional self-image that does not include regular 
Scripture study as part of their regular duties. 

Meanwhile, even as we struggle to find our way as preachers, the 
nature of the homily itself continues to evolve. Vatican II mandated a 
change from the preconciliar sermon, typically a scholastic discourse on 
moral theology, to the specifically biblical homily, an application of the 
Scripture readings of the day. The council authorized an expanded lectionary 
with its rich and, for many, unfamiliar abundance of Old and New Testa- 
ment readings. Moreover, some have noted a shift from preaching that 
"stands in Scripture and addresses the world" (kerygmatic) to preaching that 
"stands in the world" and listens to the word of God from there (the 
perspective of spiritual theology). 5 

There are further complexities, deriving both from content and 
from audience. We who preach face a double pressure. On the one hand, we 
are called to preach a challenging Gospel message: God's love for us as 
revealed especially in his Son Jesus, calling for our love of God and neighbor 
(including enemies)— all of this as mediated by the magisterium of our 
Church, which has spoken powerfully on violence, racism, sexism, milita- 
rism, abortion, the death penalty, economic injustice, and ecological abuse. 

On the other hand, we have a healthy fear of bringing partisan 
politics into the pulpit and of "laying a guilt trip" on an already burdened 
people who rightly yearn to hear good news. We fear turning off congrega- 
tions already sorely distracted by the concerns of earning a living, paying the 
bills, raising the kids, caring for aging parents. None of us wants to risk 
sounding as if we belonged to the fictional parish that Garrison Keillor, of 
National Public Radio's Prairie Home Companion, gently calls "Our Lady of 
Perpetual Responsibility." 

Is there a way of meeting the first challenge (preaching justice) that 
does not founder on the rocks of the second reality? I think so. I am 
convinced that if we really preach the full range of biblical justice, we can 
challenge without laying a fresh burden on the overburdened. Nor need we 

4 Those trained in the 1950s will recall being introduced to the new scholarship 
on Jesus' life by Bruce Vawter's A Popular Explanation of the Four Gospels (1955), followed 
the next year by John L. McKenzie's introduction to the Old Testament, The Two-Edged 

5 This distinction is noted by Joseph Tetlow, S.J., in his introduction to Ernest 
Ferlita, S.J., Paths of Life, Cycle A (New York: Alba House, 1992), xv-xviii. 

Preaching Biblical Justice 

violate the integrity of the liturgical situation. Rightly done, preaching 
biblical justice will feed a deep hunger, heal some real wounds— and, yes, 
lead to a deeper sense of our responsibility as believing citizens called to act 
lovingly in an unjust world. 

We live at a time when our nation is badly divided by fear of 
violence (domestic, urban, and international), by differing strategies for 
combating abortion, by a growing gap between rich and poor, by a still- 
active racism, by different understandings about how our faith connects with 
our citizenship, and by a cultural individualism that puts special interests 
before the common good. In the face of these numbing divisions and fears, 
the good news is that in our Gospel-based tradition of Catholic social 
teaching, we have a wisdom to share among ourselves and with the world 
around us. Clearly and vividly articulated in the ordinary course of our 
preaching, that vision can provide a sense of hope and direction that stirs up 
new energy. I am convinced that it is possible to share this wisdom in a way 
that can liberate rather than intimidate, energize rather than enervate, a way 
that takes a firm gospel stand without indulging in partisan politics. 

I try here to spell that out in four movements. First, I briefly 
review the story of my own efforts to respond to the faith-justice mandate of 
the last three general congregations and demonstrate how those efforts have 
affected my preaching. Second, I sketch what I understand to be the scope of 
biblical justice. Third, I take the risk of reviewing samples of my own 
homiletic efforts as a way of reflecting on the process of preaching biblical 
justice. And fourth, I offer what I hope are some practical suggestions for 
preaching biblical justice. 6 (Readers in a hurry are encouraged to move right 
to part 4.) 

Four Movements toward Preaching Biblical Justice 

1. One Part-Time Preacher's Story 

Like many of us, I am a full-time teacher and a part-time preacher. 
In my case, the first activity has impacted the second significantly. Since 
many North American Jesuits working in our schools have expressed 
difficulty in integrating the famous Decree 4 of GC 32 ("Our Mission Today: 
The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice") into their working lives, 
it may be helpful to sketch briefly how I, a university professor, have tried 

6 Ideas that provide the seeds for the second and fourth parts found earlier 
expression in my "Preaching Biblical Justice," Church 12, no. 1 (Spring 1996): 17-21. 

6 * Dennis Hamm, S.J. 

to make sense of the mandate to serve the faith in a way that includes the 
promotion of social justice. 

When the published decrees of GC 32 hit our mailboxes in the 
summer of 1975, I was busy trying to complete a dissertation in New 
Testament studies. I was young enough (still thirtysomething) to read those 
documents with considerable excitement. I had no trouble assenting to the 
vision sketched by Decree 4: the earlier prophetic communications of Father 
Arrupe regarding our mission had prepared me well to receive it. 7 But if that 
description of our mission today made eminent sense, how I was to imple- 
ment it in academe required another step, taking me beyond assent. 

That summer, world hunger was much in the news. Here, it seemed 
to me, was a social-justice issue that, like the Vietnam War, posed an educa- 
tional challenge as great as a political one. Most people, when confronted 
with pictures of children with bloated bellies and statistics on population 
growth and the depletion of arable land, simply go numb. "What can I do?" 
they ask themselves. "What's the connection between these hungry millions 
and my own capacity to act in this world?" Clearly, like the recent war, this 
was an issue of understanding and imagination even before it was a question 
of political strategy. In short, it was something that I could address precisely 
as an educator. 

Fortunately, I was just beginning my career as a college teacher in a 
theology department still small and flexible. I designed a biblically based 
course called "Faith and Food." It was an exercise in collective contempla- 
tion upon the phenomenon of what I called homo edens, the human person 
as eater. We worked literally from the ground up. Beginning with the 
question "How does earth become food?" we pooled our knowledge of 
chemistry and biology regarding soil formation, the carbon cycle, photosyn- 
thesis, and all that. Moving on to ask, "How does food become us?" we 
reviewed, or learned for the first time, the physiology of digestion and 
assimilation. Then we took a cross-cultural look at the place of meals in 
human culture, which led easily to some exercises in journaling about their 

7 For a critique of the justice language of Decree 4 of GC 32, see Martin R. 
Tripole, S.J., Faith beyond Justice: Widening the Perspective (St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit 
sources, 1994); and "The Roots of Faith-and-Justice," Review for Religious 54, no. 5 
(September/October, 1995): 646-65. Whatever imprecisions Decree 4 may contain, I need 
to say that, read against the decree's expressed framework — namely The Spiritual Exercises, 
The Formula of the Institute, and The Constitutions— -the urgent message of that decree 
regarding the social-justice dimension of our mission today has always made good sense to 
me as it stands. In what follows, I find myself in accord with the discussion of these issues 
in Seamus Murphy, S.J., "The Many Ways of Justice," STUDIES IN THE SPIRITUALITY OF 

Jesuits 21/2 (1994). 

Preaching Biblical Justice -I* 7 

own food life. Indeed, one of the main activities during the first quarter was 
to make at least three journal reflections per week on some food-related 
topic, either directly from the students' personal social experience or from 
something they met in the print or electronic media. (The students soon 
came to realize that virtually everything in their family and social life was 
related to eating and drinking, and that a surprising number of political and 
economic events are linked to land use and food-driven economies.) 

Meanwhile, we toured Scripture, tracking themes like food as fellow 
creature, food as component of worship, food as a factor in social justice, the 
continuity between Passover and Eucharist, the table fellowship of Jesus, 
Jesus' food and farm stories, and table-fellowship and worship issues in the 
Christian community of Corinth. 

During the second half of the semester, we focused on such con- 
temporary food-related justice issues as land use in Latin America, food 
policies sponsored by the federal government, the plight of the family farm 
in the United States. During this quarter, each student was required to 
follow a particular food-related justice issue visible in media reports of 
current events, asking these questions: What decisions have been made? 
What values do these decisions promote? Are these decisions just? If not, 
how might justice be better served? 

My efforts at locating the human person as eater in the fullest 
possible context gave rise to a vision of our place in the universe that I tried 
to elaborate with my students. Since it relates to the Christian understanding 
of creation that undergirds much of our vision of justice, I'll share part of 
that vision here. 

The Sun, in its spectacular long-range burn-out (it is about halfway 
through a ten-billion-year process), sends most of its energy into a sink, the 
cool darkness of the universe. Only one-billionth of the Sun's total radiation 
is intercepted by Earth. All forms of life on Earth live by virtue of solar 
energy. But we— the most complex form of life in the solar system!— have no 
way of using the Sun's energy directly. We can absorb the makings of a little 
vitamin D by letting the Sun shine on our skin, but that's it. The only trap 
we have on this planet for capturing and reversing the Sun's entropy is the 
chlorophyll of green plants. Thanks to the chlorophyll they contain, green 
plants, alone among the biotic community, can do photosynthesis. Thus, out 
of that one-billionth of the Sun's radiation that Earth intercepts, the chloro- 
phyll of Earth's plants uses one-tenth of one percent and turns it into the 
basis for all life here in our little ecological community of plants, animals, 
and us. That is a good reminder of the biblical teaching that the green 
plants, which are the source, directly or indirectly, of all we eat, are fellow 
creatures, not human artifacts. It is not mere wordplay to say that when I 

Dennis Hamm, S.J. 

eat an apple I am eating sunlight. I consume some of the energy of the Sun 
trapped by the apple tree's green leaves. 8 

But there are further mysteries to contemplate here. The apple not 
only fuels me; it becomes me. As the German proverb puts it, "Man ist was 
man ifit" (you are what you eat). My body, with little help from my intelli- 
gence, has ways to turn the substance of the apple into the substance of me. 
The fascinating explanations of the physiology of digestion give insight into 
these mysteries. Through food, the energy of the Sun and the stuff of Earth 
become me and fuel what I have become to perform actions of knowing and 

What this kind of reflection beings home is that our eating is 
perhaps our most naturally religious activity. In that activity we come to 
know ourselves as creatures, dependent upon a Power greater than ourselves 
for existence and sustenance. And around shared food, the meal, we come to 
know one another as brothers and sisters, sharing a common dependency 
upon one another and upon God. 

These few paragraphs only begin to express our situation as homo 
edens, but they are perhaps enough to illustrate how attention to our place 
in the universe as human eaters illuminates the truth of the magisterial 
teaching on the common good; namely, that the goods of the earth exist first 
of all to meet the needs of all. In this moral vision, the substance of the land 
is the prime analogate. Attention to food calls our attention to land, which 
immediately highlights the social-justice questions arising from patterns of 
land ownership and use. For example, the students came to realize that only 
a few wealthy families owned most of the land in El Salvador and chose to 
use it mainly for growing cash crops for export rather than for growing the 
staples needed by the local population. This awareness helped them to 
understand why there have been peasant revolutions in that country. 
Students who had never given a thought to farm issues and international 
relations discovered that simply by following a chain of reflections beginning 
with eating, plants, and land, they were finding themselves to be intimately 
connected to events and issues of justice that once had seemed arcane and 
numbingly remote. 

Well, involvement in this course also transformed my own aware- 
ness and thinking. It helped me appreciate the Thomist tradition regarding 
the place of creation in moral reasoning. It prepared me to appreciate the 

8 While this reflection draws on scientific commonplaces, for this way of 
thinking about energy in the solar system I am especially indebted to Medard Gabel, Ho- 
Ping: Food for Everyone: Strategies to Eliminate Hunger (Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor/ 
Doubleday, 1979), 16-21. 

Preaching Biblical Justice 

contribution of the U.S. Catholic bishops' letter on the U.S. economy, 
Economic Justice for All. It helped me see the pertinence of the past century's 
papal writing that we sum up with the phrase Catholic Social Teaching. 
Eventually, it persuaded one as illiterate in economics as I to peruse the 
business section of the daily paper on occasion, to work nine years on the 
board of a local peace-and-justice education center, and even to serve for a 
time on our Archdiocesan Rural Life Commission. 

That, in short, is how reading Decree 4 twenty years ago got me to 
try to serve faith and promote justice as a university educator. Meanwhile, 
something was happening to my preaching. That curricular effort to read 
and teach the biblical traditions in the light of food-related justice issues 
helped me to hear unexpected resonances between the lectionary readings 
and social-justice issues current at the moment of a particular preaching 
assignment. These were the years marred by the assassination of Oscar 
Romero, the rape and murder of the church women in El Salvador, and the 
exposure of U.S. complicity in other violence in Latin America. Our bishops 
were engaging the U.S. church in a grass-roots consultation and teaching 
process that issued in The Challenge of Peace (1983) and Economic Justice for 
All (1986). The ongoing effort of relating the biblical traditions to current 
issues in the faith-and-food course was awakening me to the connections 
between and among peace-and-justice issues, our tradition of Catholic social 
teaching, and the lectionary readings of the day. A synthetic sense of biblical 
justice began to emerge, which I'll try to summarize here. 

2. Biblical Justice 

The court, the classroom, and the Bible: Before we consider the 
biblical notions of justice, it helps realize at the start that the justice-talk of 
the Bible differs from the more philosophical justice language that we have 
learned in the classroom and the courtroom. And yet, though the biblical 
and philosophical notions are indeed different in origin, they have long been 
wedded in Catholic social teaching. 

The more familiar and conventional meaning of justice (the language 
of courts and classrooms) derives not from Scripture but from the classical 
philosophical tradition that has come down to us from ancient Greece and 
Rome. The essence of that classic philosophical notion of justice has been 
caught handily in the Latin tag suum cuique reddere (to render to each his or 
her due). Spelling out what is due, of course, requires an analysis of rights 
and consequent duties. Biblical justice includes the concerns expressed in that 
classic philosophical notion, but sets them in a fuller context. The main 
biblical vocabulary of justice— sedaqah in the Hebrew and biKcuoovvr) in 

10 * Dennis Hamm, SJ. 

Greek— refers to a right ordering of relationships, first the God/human 
relationship and second the human-to-human. A phrase that captures the 
wider context of biblical justice is fidelity to the demands of covenant relation- 
ships. 9 The foundation of the biblical understanding of justice is the faith 
claim that God and humanity are bonded in a set of relationships imaged as 

All the considerations entailed in the philosophers' suum cuique can 
find a home in the biblical notion of justice, but the scope of biblical justice 
is much more inclusive. The biblical vision sees all social relationships in the 
context of a communal life shared with God. Whereas the classical philo- 
sophical tradition of justice works from a rational analysis of human nature 
and society, the biblical-justice tradition works from a vision of divine 
initiative creating and sustaining world and persons, and calling the persons 
to conduct their lives in response to that divine initiative. That entails 
honoring the Giver and sharing the gifts in love and gratitude. Necessarily, 
biblical justice is a summons to individual and communal conversion. 

In the postbiblical tradition, obviously, the tools of classical philoso- 
phy have been useful for elaborating the details of what is implied behavior- 
ally and legally in the living-out of the demands of covenant relationships. 
St. Thomas, using Aristotle's categories in his treatment of justice, does so 
from a biblical framework, that is, from the perspective of an order created 
and sustained by God. Biblical discourse on justice themes (in story, song, 
law, and prophecy) always moves in that larger world of living out the 
covenant in the human response to God's creating and redeeming initiative. 
Reflection on some specific biblical material may help clarify the scope of 
biblical justice. 

The Torah: The primeval story of the human family, told in the 
first eleven chapters of Genesis as a prelude to the more specific story of 
Israel, pictures the relationships of biblical justice in a powerfully elemental 
way. Here we find the basic themes: God as giver of all, persons as part of 
the creature network, food as fellow creature, humankind as intimately 
involved with the earth ('dddm made from the 'addmdh; or earthling from 
earth, humanity from the humus), male and female together constituting the 
image of God, and humans as stewards (not owners) of Earth. The primeval 

9 This formulation of biblical justice was argued cogently by John R. Donahue, 
S.J., "Perspectives on Biblical Justice," in The Faith That Does Justice (New York/Ramsey: 
Paulist Press, 1977). See also by the same author, "What Does the Lord Require? A 
Bibliographical Essay on the Bible and Social Justice," STUDIES IN THE SPIRITUALITY OF 
JESUITS 25/2 (1993): 19-25. L. John Topel, S.J., The Way of Peace: Liberation through the 
Bible (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1979) also provides a helpful overview of the biblical 
treatment of justice. 

Preaching Biblical Justice »I* 1 1 

history then proceeds to display, five images of human violation of that 
divine/human relationship: Adam and Eve's rebellion, Cain's murder of his 
brother, the general arrogance and violence of Genesis 6 (v. 5: "the wicked- 
ness of humankind was great in the Earth"), Ham's disrespect of his father, 
and the technological arrogance of all people at Babel. Building on the 
traditions he has inherited, the sixth-century-B.C. priestly author of Genesis 9 
presents God as renewing the covenant with "all flesh" already established in 
the bond arising from creation itself, a bond that has been called the cosmic 
covenant. 10 What the arrogance of the descendants of Noah undid, in the 
behavior symbolized by the Tower of Babel story (Genesis 11), God prom- 
ises to mend through the covenant with Abram (Genesis 12). What looks at 
first to be a narrowing-down from the cosmic to the tribal turns out still to 
be universal in scope, for God promises that through Abram's descendants 
all the families of the earth will be blessed. 

The Exodus story tells of God rescuing the Hebrews from the 
oppression of slavery and, through the Sinai covenant, making of them a 
bonded community, a community contrasting with the nations surrounding 
them. Consequently, the laws of the Hebrew Bible are not simply social 
legislation but a spelling-out of covenant relationships. Though many of the 
details of the Torah echo the legislation of their Near Eastern neighbors, 
Israel sees its community relationships as part of its life with God. Fidelity 
to the covenant relationships (justice, righteousness) is part of the Israelites' 
worship of the One who created, rescued, and sustains them as a people. 
Covenant justice is achieved in the structures of community life ensured by 
law. (We Christians have sometimes allowed Paul's critique of Pharisaic 
legalism to obscure the reality of the Jewish simhat hattorah [rejoicing in the 

The prophets: The main task of the prophets (especially Amos, 
Hosea, Jeremiah, and Isaiah) was to call the people back to lives of covenant 
justice. For example, they diagnosed hunger as stemming from injustice, not 
scarcity. For the prophets, fidelity to the horizontal relationships of the 

10 For the interpretation that Gen. 6:18 and 9:9 refer to the confirmation of a 
covenant already established in the original creation narrated in Gen. 1-2, see W. Dum- 
brell, Covenant and Creation: A Theology of Old Testament Covenants (New York: Thomas 
Nelson, 1984); P. A. H. de Boer, "Quelques remarques sur Tare dans la nuee (Genese 9: 8- 
17)," in Brekelmans, Questions disputees d'Ancien Testament: Methode et theologie, BETL 32 
Louvain: Leuven University, 1989): 105-14; and "Noah and Israel: The Everlasting Divine 
Covenant with Mankind," also in Brekelmans, Questions, 115-29. On cosmic covenant, see 
Robert Murray, The Cosmic Covenant: Biblical Themes of Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of 
Creation (Westminster, Md.: Christian Classics, 1992). 

12 ■*■ Dennis Hamm, S.J. 

covenant was so important that failure in this regard rendered worship 
vacuous (see, for example, Amos 5:21-24; Isa. 1:12-17, 58:6; or Jer. 7:1-11). 

This vision of living out fidelity to the covenant relationships was 
rooted not only in salvation history (the experience of redemption from 
slavery in Egypt and, later, the rescue from the Babylonian exile); the ethics 
of Israel was also rooted in the very structures of creation. When, for 
example, Isaiah excoriates the elite of Israel for land grabbing and self- 
indulgence, he identifies their moral failure as the failure to see the created 
order for what it is: "Ah, you who rise early in the morning in pursuit of 
strong drink, who linger in the evening to be inflamed by wine, whose feasts 
consist of the lyre and harp, tambourine and flute and wine, but who do not 
regard the deeds of the Lord or see the work of his hands" (Isa. 5:11-13). 
Even more than the prophets, the sages of Israel rooted their sense of justice 
in a vision of creation. Consider this from Proverbs: "He who oppresses a 
helpless person insults his creator, but he who is kind to the needy honors 
him" (Prov. 14:31). Or this: "The poor person and the oppressor meet 
together; Yahweh gives light to the eyes of both" (Prov. 29:13). 

The vision of the long-range future of God's plan of justice comes 
to its fullest expression in prophetic visions during the Exile. Jeremiah (30- 
31), Ezekiel, and especially Second Isaiah (Isa. 40-55) teach the refugees to 
hope for a new creation consisting in a restored and renewed covenant and 
community. The inclusive covenant of creation would be implemented 
through Israel's servant mission to be a light to the nations (Isa. 49:6). Just as 
Yahweh had first fashioned his people in the process of liberation from 
slavery in Egypt, so now, through the instrumentality of his "anointed one" 
(the Persian Cyrus!), he was working a new creation in restoring his people 
to the land of Israel. Their challenge was to collaborate with this process of 
God's re-creation. Part of Isaiah's vision of God's plan was the idea that 
Israel, as God's servant, would not only restore the twelve tribes of the 
house of Jacob but would also fulfill the promise to Abraham and be a light 
to the nations. 

Jesus: It is in Jesus of Nazareth, of course, that we Christians claim 
to have found the divine premise and project of biblical justice fulfilled. In 
his humanity a Torah-keeping layman, Jesus gathered around himself a tribal 
Twelve and called his people to a renewal of their living of the covenant 
relationships. Often people project a picture of Jesus as somehow above and 
beyond the Law. Indeed, he revoked the letter of the Torah regarding 
divorce and oaths and he extended love of neighbor to include the enemy. 
But he transgressed its precepts only when a ceremonial or Sabbath law 
impeded meeting a human need. Thus, he would eat with the unclean and 
heal on the Sabbath (technically, medical "work"). But when it came to the 

Preaching Biblical Justice •i' 13 

essentials of the Torah and its moral and religious vision, he was a keeper of 
the Law, that guide to the covenant relationships. 

After the death of the prophet John the Baptizer, Jesus embarked 
on his own prophetic activity. He seized upon the current apocalyptic 
symbol of the coming Kingdom of God and gave it his own mysterious 
turn. To respond to the Kingdom of God was to acknowledge that the 
ultimate authority in one's life was not the high priest, or the Hebrew 
tetrarch, or the Roman emperor, but "King" God, the Creator. To announce 
that the Kingdom of God was coming was to proclaim that the Reign of 
God the King was about to be manifested in a fresh way on this earth and, 
indeed, that Jesus' own ministry offered access to that new manifestation of 
God's saving power here and now. One responded to this news by acting in 
recognition of the reality that God— and not oneself or one's family or one's 
social group or any other group or person— was the final authority in one's 
life. That meant living a life of a renewed covenant that created a commu- 
nity of love (even love of enemies), nonviolence, forgiveness, and sharing of 
goods, since all things were finally gifts of the divine King. 

The ethics implied in Jesus' preaching of Kingdom justice is espe- 
cially evident in some of his parables. In the story of the Good Samaritan 
(Luke 10:30-37), Jesus presents the compassionate outreach of a hated enemy 
of the people as an example of the fullness of Torah living. In the Rich Man 
and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), he presents a picture of a man who neglected 
to apply Isa. 58:6f. to himself and to recognize the beggar at his gate as his 
covenant brother. In the story about the Rich Landowner (Luke 12:16-21), 
Jesus gives a showcase example of a man who has allowed his wealth to lead 
him to disregard all the covenant relationships: with Earth (whose products 
are gifts to be shared, not a commodity to be hoarded), with the community 
(from which he has withdrawn, just like Howard Hughes, to grasp his 
possessions to himself), with himself (even his \l/vxrj is "on loan" from 
Another), and with God (whose surprising presence he has neglected in his 
interior monologue). 

Jesus healed and delivered people from demonic power, and he 
interpreted these events as signs of the Reign *of God already inaugurated 
(Luke 11:20). Healing the sick was not only a bringing to physical whole- 
ness, it was a restoration to community of those on the margin. He shared 
meals with tax collectors and non-keepers of the Torah, even though doing 
so rendered him "unclean" in the eyes of his peers. He reached beyond all 
group loyalties to full human solidarity; for example, in his relationships 
with women, Samaritans, rich as well as poor, and even an occasional 

14 «*■ Dennis Hamm, SJ. 

Though Jesus' call to live the fullness of biblical justice was accepted 
by some, mainly the marginal, it was misunderstood by many and radically 
rejected by some of the most powerful civil and religious authorities of his 
day, a rejection that led to the irregular trials and execution we commemo- 
rate during Holy Week. 

The Church: The fresh divine initiative that the followers of Jesus 
experienced in the resurrection and the Pentecostal outpouring of the Spirit 
came to be recognized as a further inauguration of the Kingdom of God, 
enabling them to live the life of the covenant in forgiveness, healing, meet- 
ing of mutual needs, and outreach to the rest of the world. Understood this 
way, the whole Spirit-led life of the Christian community was an expression 
of biblical justice, the living-out of the relationships of the covenant commu- 
nity in worship and service, whereby those who had gave to those who did 
not have. 

In this light, Luke is inspired to speak of the birth of the Church 
at Pentecost in terms of a reversal of the Tower of Babel episode. Whereas 
the arrogant rebellion symbolized in Genesis 11 had led to a confusion of 
tongues and a scattering of the people, now a joyful response to divine 
invitation leads to a gathering from many nations and people "confused" by 
the wonder of unexpected communication (Acts 2:1-12). Paul and Barnabas 
understand the mission of the servant Israel (as light to the nations) to be 
fulfilled in their own ministry to the Gentiles, empowered by the risen Lord 
Jesus (Acts 13:46-47, where they apply Isa. 49:6 to themselves; see also Acts 
26:17-23). Thus, the Acts of the Apostles presents us with a powerful and 
perennially valid paradox: The Church is a "contrast society" mandated to 
serve the very world to which it provides a contrast. 

When the apostle Paul uses justice language in his correspondence 
with fledgling Christian communities in places like Philippi, Galatia, and 
Rome, he echoes his Hebrew Scriptures by speaking first of divine initiative, 
God "justifying" (or "making right") sinners, who in turn are called to live 
lives of "righteousness" (diKoaoavvrj), that is, being faithful to the demands of 
those covenant relationships in the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Whereas the synoptic evangelists stay with the Kingdom language of 
Jesus' preaching, Paul adapts to his Hellenistic readership by stressing life in 
the Holy Spirit. Both modes of discourse are ways of speaking about the 
bonded life of biblical justice, where the Creator and Redeemer initiates a 
renewed covenant through Jesus, and where Christian life— in all its relation- 
ships — is the response to that divine initiative. 

The postbiblical tradition: The point of this quick trip through 
Scripture is to suggest how biblical justice saturates the entire sweep of the 
Bible. Understood in this way, biblical justice embraces and provides a fuller 

Preaching Biblical Justice 4* 15 

framework for our own preaching and teaching about contemporary social- 
justice issues. When Thomas Aquinas theologized in the thirteenth century 
about biblical justice, he employed the classical philosophical categories of 
Aristotle to analyze justice into its various aspects, for example, in commuta- 
tive (person-to-person) and distributive (group-to-persons) justice, and to 
elaborate his understanding of rights and duties. 

The experience and reflection of the past century and a half has 
helped us see how the very (human-made) structures of society can be just or 
unjust and that there is a social justice that calls citizens to change unjust 
structures, the better to serve the common good. The current expression of 
Catholic social teaching has it that at the heart of a biblically informed 
vision of justice is the dignity of the person participating in community. A 
corollary is that the dignity of the person is fostered only when the struc- 
tures of society have as their goal the common good— the sum of all those 
social goods that sustain the dignity of all persons in the community. This 
may seem like an obvious understanding and vision, but it is not that of the 
secular culture that surrounds us, which cultivates an individualism prizing 
individual freedom more than the common good. Recently, the experience 
of the church in Latin America has called attention to the biblical mandate 
for a preferential option for the poor — a concept now embraced by the 
universal magisterium of the Church. 

The postbiblical development of justice talk is consonant with its 
biblical roots. In the end, however, it is the biblical meaning that provides 
the fullest context for understanding the subsequent tradition about justice. 
Informed preaching on biblical justice, in the manner urged by our bishops 
in Communities of Salt and Light, will help us live out faithfully those 
demands of the covenant relationship with God, others, and the rest of 

For us Christians, then, justice is more than simply "being fair." It 
is nothing less than living in community with the Creator and all other 
creatures, ready to share the gifts of life in the Spirit of Jesus. As Roman 
Catholic Christians, we share a tradition that spells out powerfully what it 
means in practice to be faithful to this ancient and renewed covenant. In our 
Jesuit documents we sometimes use the more classical language of postbibli- 
cal theology, for instance, joining "promotion of justice" with "the service of 
faith" to embrace the full range of the covenantal notion of biblical justice; 
at other times, for example in Decree 2 of GC 34, "Servants of Christ's 
Mission," we refer more explicitly to biblical justice, as in this sentence from 
paragraph 13 of that document: "From faith comes the justice willed by 
God, the entry of the human family into peace with God and with one 

16 * Dennis Hamm, SJ. 

3. Preaching Biblical Justice: Some Sample Efforts 

What follows are some of my own attempts at preaching biblical 
justice when the readings of the day make it appropriate. In virtually every 
case, the congregation addressed by these homilies is the community of the 
11:30 A.M. Sunday Eucharist at St. John's Church, Omaha, Nebraska. 
Typically, they are a mix of Creighton University students and some who 
regularly come from all over Omaha. St. John's is, informally and de facto, a 
nonterritorial parish of people who choose to come to this church because 
they are drawn to the liturgy and community here. 

While not all of my homilies highlight justice-related themes, I was 
surprised to discover, as I browsed through those Sunday sermons that I 
have archived on hard and floppy disks, how many of them found a justice 
connection. I take the risk of displaying a handful of them here because, for 
better or worse, they provide concrete examples that at least suggest what I 
am talking about. One person's fumbling efforts often inspire another to do 
the same thing better. 

I have chosen five specimens. Two take up specific issues prompted 
by current events (the death penalty and the prospect of war). The next two 
explore connections between liturgical feasts (Christ the King and Palm 
Sunday) and the peace-and-justice ministry of the Church. A final example 
focuses on some justice implications of a familiar image (the Lamb who takes 
away the sin of the world). 

An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Blind 

The Seventh Sunday of the Year (February 18, 1996) 
Readings: Lev. 19: If., 17f.; 1 Cor. 3:16-23; Matt. 5:38-48 (Love your enemies.) 

Did that gospel reading make you flinch? 

I think we just heard the toughest— and most liberating— part of 
Jesus' moral teaching. It was challenging two thousand years ago; it still 
makes us squirm today. And yet, these passages— Jesus' teaching on nonvio- 
lence and love of enemies— are the very words that inspired Mahatma 
Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. They moved Gandhi to the nonviolent 
actions that resisted British oppression in India; they moved King to the 
boycotts and sit-ins that began to reverse legalized racism here in the United 
States. Today I hear this teaching of Jesus challenging us regarding another 
issue very much in the air, the death penalty. 

Listen to the voice of a woman quoted recently on a New York 
Times' report on capital punishment. Anne Coleman spoke recently against 

Preaching Biblical Justice *k 17 

an execution. She got a phone call from someone who asked her how she 
would feel if her son had been killed. Mrs. Coleman responded, "My daugh- 
ter was murdered. Does that count?" Her daughter Frances was murdered at 
age 24, leaving behind a two-year-old daughter. Mrs. Coleman is a member 
of a group called Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation. The group is 
precisely what their name describes. Each member has lost a loved one 
through murder and does not want the state to kill the person who did the 
killing. The group is about twenty years old now and numbers some three 

How do people in that situation get to think that way? You will 
recognize that their position is not a spontaneous human emotion. The 
more usual response to the murder of a family member is desire for revenge. 
Most of these folks are in that group; but they are working for the abolition 
of capital punishment, because their following of Jesus has led them to that 
place— and it was not just the teaching of Jesus but his reconciling grace. 

Let's look at the gospel reading again. Jesus says, "You have heard 
the commandment, 'An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.'" Stop right 
there for a second. That Israelite principle— an eye for an eye— was already a 
mitigation of violence. In a nomadic, tribal culture the standard operating 
procedure was vengeance, maximum retaliation: you injure my brother's eye 
and I and my brother will come over and take out both of yours — maybe 
your whole head, if we can get away with it. So the eye-for-an-eye rule was 
meant to put a curb on vengeance. As their legal system evolved, the 
Israelites didn't implement the rule literally and physically, but worked out a 
system of payment for damages. It wasn't an unreasonable system. 

But Jesus comes along to say that this quid-pro-quo system doesn't 
begin to implement his vision of living the Kingdom. Legal procedure may 
be able to bring about some mitigation of violence, but his approach is to 
counter violence with creative nonviolence. What he offers in this regard is 
not some new rules but three startling examples of creative nonviolence. 
First, he says, if someone tries to shame you with a backhanded slap across 
the cheek, shock your insulter by offering the other cheek, showing him 
that you refuse to be shamed. Second, if your creditor is so unjustly oppres- 
sive that he takes you to court over your shirt, then hand over your coat, 
and stand there stark naked. Implication: the shocking nakedness that will 
result will expose his oppression; even the law in Exodus says a debtor gets 
to keep his coat (Exod. 22:26-27). Third example: if one of the occupying 
Roman soldiers insists that you carry his backpack for a mile, carry it two 
miles. Implication: you'll break down some of the natural hostility between 
the locals and the occupying troops, and incidentally the soldier will be 
forced to break his own Roman law, which only allows him to enlist you as 

18 •*• Dennis Hamm, S.J. 

a caddie for one mile. The point of Jesus' examples: Meet violence and 
hostility with creative nonviolent action. 

But before we get comfortable with that, the next step in Jesus' 
Sermon on the Mount goes even further: Love your enemies; pray for your 
persecutors. And the motivation Jesus offers for this is nothing less than the 
imitation of the Creator. Look at the Creator's distribution of the sunlight 
and the rain: these elements of nature nurture the bad guys along with the 
good, and they warm and wash and quench the thirst of the unjust as well 
as of the just. If you want to live the life of the Reign of God, then imitate 
God. Let your compassion be as inclusive as that of the Creator. 

Anyone knows that such an attitude doesn't come naturally. It 
requires the healing of anger and resentment, the grace of forgiveness and 
reconciliation, the support of the Christian community. In our own time, 
reflection on Jesus' teaching about nonviolence and love of enemies has led 
the Church to a new attitude regarding the death penalty. Pope John Paul II 
has come out with stronger and stronger statements against the use of capital 
punishment (most formally in his March 1995 encyclical, "The Gospel of 
Life," saying that it is virtually never warranted; see section 56). Our own 
bishops have echoed that stand repeatedly, most recently in their November 
statement on political responsibility. I quote them: 

The church's commitment to the value and dignity of human life leads us 
to oppose the use of the death penalty. We believe that a return to the use 
of the death penalty is further eroding respect for life in our society. We do 
not question society's right to protect itself, but we believe that there are 
better approaches to protecting our people from violent crimes. The 
application of the death penalty has been discriminatory toward the poor, 
the indigent and racial minorities. Our society should reject the death 
penalty to seek methods of dealing with violent crime that are more 
consistent with the Gospel visions of respect for life and Christ's message of 
healing love. 11 

They also observe elsewhere that it has not been demonstrated that the 
death penalty acts as a deterrent. Our own state of Nebraska, like most 
others, is reviewing the death-penalty laws. Currently the forty-nine legisla- 
tors in the Unicameral stand this way: twenty-seven senators in favor of the 
death penalty, nine opposed, and thirteen either undecided or unwilling to 
answer. Those of us who find it in our conscience to move with our 
Church's application of Jesus' teaching on this issue clearly have some work 
to do. 

11 Origins 25, no. 22 (Nov. 16, 1995): 377. 

Preaching Biblical Justice •!* 19 

Two suggestions: (1) See the film Dead Man Walking and discuss it 
with your friends. It is about the work of Sister Helen Prejean, C.S.J. , with 
convicts on death row and with their families and the families of their 
victims. It's a gripping movie and it'll make you proud of the Church and 
stir your heart and mind. You'll also be glad there is another image of a nun 
out there in the media besides Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act II (fun though 
that one may be). (2) You might want to join a prayer service occurring a 
week from next Friday in a church near you. It is called "Abolition 2000." 
The point is to pray for the abolition of the death penalty by the year 2000. 
Services are scheduled at noon, Friday March 1, at St. Cecilia's for those in 
Douglas County and at St. Mary's for Sarpy County (there will be remind- 
ers in the newspapers as the time approaches). 

Mrs. Coleman wears a T-shirt with the saying, "An Eye for an Eye 
Makes the Whole World Go Blind." I think Jesus agrees. 

Some afterthoughts. Obviously, the Gospel reading was open to a 
number of applications. At the moment, capital punishment was very 
much in the air. We had a "pro-life" state Attorney General working 
strenuously to carry out the executions of the men on Nebraska's death 
row. The memory was still fresh of a nasty counterdemonstration ("Fry 
Willy!") clashing with a prayer vigil service on the occasion of an 
execution here last year. Sentiment was strong for lethal reprisal against 
those responsible for the killing of a popular young police officer here 
last fall. There was much more that could have been said regarding the 
magisterium on capital punishment (the USCC statement of 1980; the 
treatment in the Catechism of the Catholic Church; the context of a 
consistent ethic of life). But it seemed best to give at least equal time to 
an explication of the gospel text. It seemed to work. An unusual num- 
ber of parishioners thanked me for the homily after Mass. One was a 
man who said he had to admit he didn't agree with the Church on this 
issue, that he had known so-and-so (here he named a well-known person 
executed for murder) and felt he deserved to die; and that he himself 
was the survivor of a stabbing and had some strong feelings about what 
should be done with violent criminals. Nonetheless, he thanked me for 
"the hard words," gave me his name and asked for prayers. 

The Gulf War — including the debate preceding our engagement 
with Iraq and the public response to our involvement— provided several 
months during which it seemed, at least to this homilist, that here was 
an issue of public policy that demanded some treatment from the 

The next example comes from a moment when the prospect of 
military confrontation in the Persian Gulf was much on our minds. 
Though the example is, at this writing, six years old, it touches on an 
issue of conscience that recurs frequently in our lives as Catholic 

20 * Dennis Hamm, SJ. 

citizens of a powerful nation, and about which our Church has taught 
in a powerfully countercultural way. 

Regarding War: Who Is Your Teacher? 

The Thirty-first Sunday of the Year (November 4, 1990) 
Readings: Mai. l:14b-2:2b, 8-10; 1 Thes. 2:7b-9, 13; Matt. 23:1-12 

(They do not practice what they preach.) 

The scribes and the Pharisees have succeeded Moses. Do as they say, 
not as they do. Why would Jesus want to allow so much authority to the 
Pharisees? And why would he spend so much energy criticizing their 
behavior? Scholars now pretty much agree that the words we hear in today's 
Gospel are not those of Jesus addressing his contemporaries but the words of 
the church of Matthew addressing a situation at least fifty years after the 
death and resurrection of Jesus. 

The situation was this. Ten years after the Roman destruction of 
Jerusalem and its temple, the leadership of Judaism met in the city of Jamnia 
in A.D. 85. One of the actions they took was to introduce into the syna- 
gogue prayer service a curse against the minim, the Jews who had accepted 
Jesus as the Messiah, the Jews for Jesus. So most Jewish Christians began to 
acknowledge that their Christian faith separated them from the Jewish 
community. There were other Jewish Christians, however, who continued 
to think of themselves as Jewish. (Apparently, some of these people were in 
Matthew's community.) The question for them was: If I am a Jew who is a 
Christian, and I still think of myself as Jewish, how do I relate to the Jewish 
authorities who now want people like me out of the synagogue? One answer 
to that question is what we hear in today's gospel reading: Observe what 
they tell you (that is, about the meaning of the Torah and so on), but don't 
imitate their behavior. 

We later, mostly Gentile, Christians often take that verse from 
Matthew and apply it to the various authorities of our lives, often with this 
sense: Even though you've got your disagreements, follow the legitimate 
authority figures in your life. As a general rule that makes good sense in our 
ordinary daily dealings with our bosses, our civil and religious authorities. 
But there is another verse in the reading that introduces another dimension. 
Verse 10 reads: "Avoid being called teachers. Only one is your teacher, the 
Messiah." One of the implications of that verse is that our informed con- 
science, responding to the teaching of Jesus, is the main authority of our 
Christian lives. Nineteen centuries of Christian experience have provided 
plenty of examples of occasions when one can experience a genuine conflict 

Preaching Biblical Justice »!* 2 1 

between civil authority and informed Christian conscience. Our Church's 
position regarding the immorality of abortion is one such example. 

But there is another situation developing that calls for a similar 
formation of our Christian conscience in the face of the public policy of our 
civil authorities. Both the Chair of the Armed Services Committee and the 
Air Force Chief of Staff have been hinting at the possibility of bombing 
Baghdad. Think about it. Baghdad is a city about the size of Boston, with 
museums, shops, places of worship, old ladies, kids, young women— less than 
the usual number of young men though, because they lost some 200,000 in 
the war against Iran. 

It is time to recall that our Church has spoken clearly on the matter 
of the bombing of cities. To quote one such teaching, from Vatican II's 
"Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World," "Any act of 
war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or of extensive 
areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It 
merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation." 12 That has to do with 
the bombing of cities. What about military strikes that would try to spare 
civilians? Does the situation in the Gulf satisfy the traditional criteria for a 
just war? Run the criteria through your mind: just cause, comparative 
justice, right intention, last resort, probability of success, proportionality. Let 
me now read two paragraphs from our U.S. bishops in 1983 regarding the 
formation of conscience in these matters. 

In this connection we reiterate the position we took in 1980. Catholic 
teaching does not question the right in principle of a government to require 
military service of its citizens provided the government shows it is neces- 
sary. A citizen may not casually disregard his country's conscientious 
decision to call its citizens to acts of "legitimate defense." Moreover, the 
role of Christian citizens in the armed forces is a service to the common 
good and an exercise of the virtue of patriotism, so long as they fulfill this 
role within denned moral norms. 

At the same time, no state may demand blind obedience. Our 1980 
statement urged the government to present convincing reasons for draft 
registration, and opposed reinstitution of conscription itself except in the 
case of a national defense emergency. Moreover, it reiterated our support 
for conscientious objection in general and for selective conscientious 
objection to participation in a particular war, either because of the ends 
being pursued or the means being used. We called selective conscientious 
objection a moral conclusion which can be validly derived from the classical 
teaching of just-war principles. We continue to insist upon respect for and 

12 "Gaudium et spes," in The Documents of Vatican II, ed. Walter M. Abbott, S.J. 
(New York: Guild Press, Angelus Book, 1966), §80 (p. 284). 

22 4- Dennis Hamm, S.J. 

legislative protection of the rights of both classes of conscientious objectors. 
We also approve requiring alternative service to the community— not 
related to military needs — by such persons. 

Maybe our best framework for thinking about this is a verse we heard today 
from Malachi: "Have we not all the one Father? Has not the one God 
created us?" Let's keep all of this in mind and heart as we continue to reflect 
on what our civil authorities do in our name and on what we choose to do 
in the name of our government. In the end, we have one teacher, Jesus 
Christ, and our best understanding of that teaching: our own conscience 
informed by the tradition and reflection of our Church. 

Do Americans Need a King? 

Christ the King (November 26, 1995) 

Readings: 2 Sam. 5:1-3; Col. 1:12-20; Luke 23:35-43 
(There was also an inscription over him: "This is the king of the Jews.") 

We U.S. Americans don't put great stock in king-talk. We are, after 
all, children of a revolution against British royalty, just a little over two 
centuries ago. And for us today, royalty is matter for talk shows and 
tabloids. But the amazing and unexpected kingship of Jesus was something 
the gospel writers took very seriously. And, ever since, the Church, with 
very good reason, has continued the tradition. 

Each of the evangelists has his own way of describing the cruci- 
fixion, the last words, and the death of Jesus. But they are alike in insisting 
that the death (and resurrection) of Jesus shows him to be king in a way 
nobody expected. And Luke, in today's gospel reading, is the most insistent 
of all. 

We read how Jesus is taunted from all sides, and every word plays 
on the idea of kingship. The religious officials say, "He saved others, let him 
save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God." Where does this 
kind of talk come from? The sort of Messiah, or Anointed One, that most 
people of Judea were expecting was a king like David, as today's first reading 
celebrates that monarch of Israel's Golden Age. David had achieved peace 
and the unity of the twelve tribes through military power and political 
savvy. And for a few precious decades, the threat of surrounding empires 
was held at bay. Ever since that Golden Age, things had never been quite 
the same. After Solomon the breakup of the United Kingdom followed first, 
then the invasion of the Assyrians, then the Babylonians, then the Persians, 
then the Greeks. Now the Romans were in charge. The Messiah that most 
Israelites had hoped for was a king like David, who, through God-given 

Preaching Biblical Justice •!• 23 

military leadership and skillful political maneuvers, would save the people 
once again by restoring their autonomy and bringing about another age of 

So when the officials mock Jesus under the cross, they are imparting 
an ironic twist to this messianic expectation, meaning something like this: 
"The Messiah is supposed to save the people. Well, you might have been 
able to save a few from sickness with your healing, but let's see you rescue 
yourself from this fix." The soldiers express the same sentiment, but in more 
Roman terms: "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself." It is here that 
Luke chooses to introduce the note, "Above him there was an inscription 
that read, 'This is the King of the Jews' "—which is surely the evangelist's 
way of pointing up the irony of their words. The language they use in 
mockery is, for Christian readers, wonderfully true. Jesus really is a king 
who saves, but not in the way people were expecting. 

One of the bandits crucified with Jesus picks up the mocking 
refrain: "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us." Then that famous 
other bandit has the grace, in the face of all that, to acknowledge Jesus' 
kingship: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And 
Jesus says, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." It 
is interesting to know that "Paradise" is a Persian loanword for "royal 

This last exchange might lead us for a moment to think that the 
kingship of Jesus has to do entirely with life after death. But the second part 
of Luke's narrative, the Acts of the Apostles, makes it clear that the king- 
dom over which Jesus reigns as Risen Lord has very much to do with this 
world. Those in Jerusalem who come to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah and 
Lord are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live in a new way that involves 
healing, nonviolence, worshiping in Jesus' name, and the sharing of material 
goods "so that there [is] no needy person among them" (Acts 4:34, alluding 
to Deut. 15:4). 

Our ending the church year today with the celebration of Christ 
the King, therefore, is no indulgence in some kind of royal nostalgia. It is a 
commitment to the Risen Lord Jesus as the one whose authority governs 
our lives in a way that transcends every other earthly authority, be it that of 
king, president, governor, boss, whatever. One day, when we die, that will 
have wonderful implications for life after death with the King and with 
people like the repentant bandit. Meanwhile, acknowledging Jesus' ironic 
kingship has very practical implications for our ordinary lives right here in 
River City. 

As an example of what I mean, listen to what our U.S. bishops had 
to say in a document they released last week. It is called "Political Responsi- 

24 * Dennis Hamm, S.J. 

bility: Proclaiming the Gospel of Life, Protecting the Least among Us and 
Pursuing the Common Good." (Notice how they squeeze their whole 
message into the title.) They have this to say: 

Our community of faith does not rely on focus groups or polls to chart our 
directions; we advocate a consistent commitment to the human person. We 
draw our principles from Catholic teaching and tradition not partisan 
platforms or ideological agendas. We stand with the unborn and the undoc- 
umented when many politicians seem to be abandoning them. We defend 
children in the womb and on welfare. We oppose the violence of abortion 
and the vengeance of capital punishment. We oppose assault weapons on 
our streets and condoms in our schools. Our agenda is sometimes counter- 
cultural, but it reflects our consistent concern for human life. 13 

What the bishops are saying, in effect, is that following Christ the King is 
radically other-worldly and r/?zs-worldly at the same time. It is other-worldly 
in that we place our ultimate allegiance in an invisible authority, and we are 
called to act in ways that often counter the ways of the world around us 
(especially when they are violent and unjust). At the same time, following 
Christ the King is profoundly this-worldly, in that we work for the com- 
mon good, to quote the bishops again, by "sharing our values, raising our 
voices and using our votes to shape a society more respectful of human life, 
human dignity and human rights." 

So celebrating Christ the King is far from being a nostalgia trip. It is 
a commitment to joining the King in establishing a Reign whose fulfillment 
still lies ahead. It's time to start another church year. 

Let us proceed with the Supper of our King. 

Here, again, I saw the opportunity to help the parishioners see that 
an apparently outdated symbol— Christ as King— is just as meaningful as 
ever when we understand the evangelist's take on that symbol. What's 
more, from the beginning it has always had profound social implica- 
tions. Jesus' kingship is part and parcel of the idea of covenant, the very 
context of biblical justice. Here, as is frequently the case, aggiornamento 
is retrieval. 

13 Origins 25, no. 22: 374. 

Preaching Biblical Justice *V 25 

A Clash of Symbols: The Ass Confronts the Palm Branches 

Palm Sunday (March 31, 1996) 

Please be seated. Instead of a homily after the reading of the Passion 
today, we'll take a moment now to reflect on what we commemorate this 

Usually preachers take this occasion to reflect on the contrast 
between the praise and adulation of the crowd today and fickle turn of the 
same crowd on Friday, when they allow themselves to be manipulated by 
the authorities into calling for Jesus' crucifixion. But there is another con- 
trast that I'd like to highlight today. It is the contrast that the evangelists 
themselves are eager for us to contemplate. It is the contrast between the 
kind of king that the crowds take Jesus to be and the kind of king he 
understands himself to be. It all comes down to understanding the palms and 
the donkey. 

First the palms. We only know about the palm branches from 
John's Gospel. (Matthew, Mark and Luke just mention branches.) And John 
makes much of those palm branches because of what they meant in the 
Jewish tradition. In a day when they didn't have a flag, palm branches were 
the symbol of Jewish nationalism. Palm branches reminded people of the 
days of the Maccabees, nearly two centuries before Christ. After Judas 
Maccabeus and his guerrilla fighters took back the temple from the Syrian 
oppressor, Antiochus IV, the people brought palm branches to the temple 
on the occasion of its rededication (the event still celebrated at Hanukkah). 
Ever since that event, palm branches had been a sign of Jewish nationalism. 

This morning's paper describes the discovery of some Galilean coins 
struck around A.D. 24. They bear the image of Emperor Tiberius Caesar, but 
the coins have been re-struck with the image of a palm smack across the face 
of the Emperor— a political statement if there ever was one. So when the 
crowds came out to welcome Jesus with palm branches, it is clear that they 
welcomed him as a kind of political king in the tradition of the Maccabees— 
an "anointed one" who would lead a revolt against the Roman oppressors. 
But Jesus, to make it quite clear that he is not that kind of king, chooses to 
enter riding on a donkey. To illustrate the meaning of that choice, John's 
narrative first mentions the palm branches and then presents Jesus' decision 
to ride a donkey as a response to the waving of the palm branches. It is as if 
Jesus were saying, "You greet me with palm branches? You take me for 
another Maccabee? If you want me to be your king, then here's the kind of 
king I am. I'm the kind of king the prophet Zechanah spoke of, the one 
riding on an ass." To help us understand the symbolism of the ass, Matthew 

26 ■*■ Dennis Hamm, SJ. 

and John both quote the relevant passage from Zechariah 9:9. I'll quote it 
here along with the verse that follows: 

Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! See 
your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, 

Meek and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass. He shall banish the 
chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem; 

The warrior's bow shall be banished, and he shall proclaim peace to the 

The palm branches showed that the crowd was looking for a king who 
would ride a war horse. Jesus' choice of the donkey showed that he was not 
that kind of Messiah. 

As we hold these palm branches today, we can ask ourselves: What 
are we doing? Are we waving a sign of violence in the name of national 
security? Of course not. We mean something else by these branches. We 
acknowledge Jesus to be the kind of king signaled by the choice of the 
donkey— a king who chose a nonviolent path to peace, even if he himself 
had to suffer the violence of others. 

I offer this scrap of homily to suggest that sometimes the most 
helpful thing a homilist can do is to deepen the congregation's aware- 
ness of the social significance of a primary image or symbol inherent in 
the feast day, especially when that feast is an annual feast with its own 
special character. 

Sometimes what invites the connection, with biblical justice is 
neither the feast nor a particular current event but simply a familiar symbol 
of the faith calling for a renewed appreciation. The final example attempts 
just that. 

The Lamb Takes Away Sin? How? When? 

Second Sunday of the Year (January 14, 1996) 
Readings: Isa. 49:3, 5f.; 1 Cor. l:2f.; John 1:29-34 (Behold the Lamb of God.) 

Have you ever noticed that John the Baptist seems to know a lot 
more in the fourth Gospel than he does in Matthew and Luke? In Matthew 
and Luke we learn of an incident when the Baptist, locked up in prison by 
Herod, sends some of his followers to Jesus with the question, "Are you he 
who is to come, or shall we look for another?" He seems unsure in those 
Gospels, whereas in today's reading from the fourth Gospel we hear John 
the Baptist, right in the first chapter, say, "Look there! The Lamb of God 

Preaching Biblical Justice *I* 27 

who takes away the sin of the world. It is he of whom I said: 'After me is to 
come a man who ranks ahead of me, because he was before me.'" 

So, according to Matthew and Luke, halfway into the public life of 
Jesus, John is still trying to figure Jesus out. But according to John the 
Evangelist, right from the start the Baptist knows about Jesus' redemptive 
role (taking away the sin of the world) and even his preexistence as the 
eternal Son of God (he ranks ahead of me because he was before me). Which 
tradition is giving us the truth? Both. Matthew and Luke are likely giving us 
something close to John's experience as it unfolded historically. The fourth 
Gospel, on the other hand, takes such a strong post-Easter point of view 
that it proclaims the full glory of the death and resurrection of Jesus in 
every chapter. So in this Gospel the Baptist is made to speak what the 
Christian community came to know only after Easter and Pentecost: Jesus, 
as crucified and risen Lord, does take away the sin of the world; what's 
more, those who accept him in faith are being baptized in the Holy Spirit. 
And all of this resonates powerfully with a third claim, the one that thun- 
ders from this morning's reading from Isaiah: "I will make you a light to the 
nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth." 

Well, even though some of us are doing pretty well, it would be 
hard to convince victims of abuse and those still suffering from political 
oppression that Jesus has enlightened the nations, that salvation has reached 
the end of the world, that the sin of the world has been removed. 

Let's listen more closely to those readings to see if we are hearing 
them right. 

That first reading comes from the prophet we call Second Isaiah, 
who preached to the Hebrew refugees during the sixth century B.C., when 
they were exiles in Babylon. That famous Servant figure stands both for the 
community of Israel and for a leader within Israel. The Servant is saying, in 
effect, "The Lord told me: 'You are not only going to gather up the scat- 
tered tribes of Israel; but you, Israel, are going to be le'or goyim—Si light to 
the nations.'" In other words, you are not only going to be saved, you are 
going to be an instrument of salvation for others, the whole rest of the 
world. Ever since, Jews have taken that prophecy as a portrait of their role 
in history; and Christians, from gospel times on, have applied that prophecy 
to Jesus and the Church. 

When Paul writes the first letter to the Christians in Corinth— we 
read the opening of that letter as our second reading— he writes to a people 
who see themselves as the heirs of that promise. That's why he can call 
them "the church of God" and a "holy people" capable of receiving "grace 
and peace." 

28 * Dennis Hamm, S.J. 

When we hear those words of John the Baptist in the beginning of 
the fourth Gospel, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the 
world," we are hearing the Easter understanding of the Christian community 
interpreting the death and resurrection of Jesus as a new Passover, the 
initiation of a new Exodus, a new freedom from bondage. The evangelist 
draws on Old Testament language to speak of this fresh act of God's salva- 
tion in Jesus. 

The Old Testament also helps explain what "baptizing in the Holy 
Spirit" means. The prophets, especially Joel and Ezekiel, spoke of a future 
blessing of God that would come in the form of a kind of drenching by the 
Spirit of God, one that would transform the community of Israel to a just 
and righteous life with God and with one another. For example, Ezekiel, 
speaking to the same refugees that Second Isaiah addressed, said: 

I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own 
land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will 
cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give 
you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your 
heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in 
you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 
You will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and 
I will be your God." (36:24-28) 

That's what it means to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, to be empowered by 
divine grace to live the full life of the covenant relationship with God and 
with one another. 

Has it happened yet? Yes and no. In a few minutes I am going to 
hold up a consecrated wafer and repeat the words of John the Baptist: "This 
is the Lamb of God. This is he who takes away the sin of the world." We 
know what this means: Redemption has occurred in the event we commem- 
orate and make present in this sacramental meal, the death and resurrection 
of Jesus. But suppose a non-Christian visiting us today is paying close 
attention to what we say and do here. When I raise the host and say those 
words, might he not think, * 'Takes away the sin of the world?' The sin of 
the world still seems very much with us. What about the racism that is still 
very much alive today? What about politicians who work to protect corpo- 
rate welfare even as they work to deconstruct policies meant to support 
poor children and families? What about a culture whose legal system rou- 
tinely allows the killing of its unborn? What about people so bent on 'ethnic 
cleansing' that other nations have to come in and police them? The work of 
your Lamb is apparently unfinished." 

What would we say to such an outside observer of our Eucharist? 
We'd have to say, "Yes, you are right. We understand that the Lamb takes 

Preaching Biblical Justice •!* 29 

away the sin of the world in a sacrificial and forgiving love enabling us to be 
in covenant relationship to our God. We believe that we have already 
entered that blessing in our life of faith in the Church. But you are right to 
expect that this should have some effect in the larger world. The Lamb of 
God takes away the sin of the world partly through us, to the extent that 
we work for justice, racial healing, the protection of the unborn, the support 
of children— in every part of our lives as workers, employers, family mem- 
bers, and citizens." 

What keeps us hopeful in the midst of so much darkness and 
violence is the knowledge that the Spirit of God empowers us to be the light 
of the world. God does the saving. Missioned by our baptism and confirma- 
tion, nourished by the Eucharist, let us cooperate. 

This Sunday's texts invited an exploration of the broad themes of 
covenant and the covenant renewal of the Eucharist. My hope was that 
this treatment of the themes would enable the congregation to associate 
our celebration of the sacrament with our public lives. 

4. Some Conclusions 

Out of my own efforts to preach with some attention to biblical 
justice, I have come up with the following items of self-advice, which I offer 
here in the hope that they will be helpful to others. 

1. Let the lectionary readings of the day speak. The word of God, 
and not one of my pet causes, provides the cues for my homily. My charge 
as preacher is to "break open" the word in a way that nurtures the faith of 
the assembled worshiping community. Any application to peace-and-justice 
issues must flow from that nurturing of the faith. We are preaching in a 
ritual moment called the Service of the Word preceding a Service of the 
Eucharist; this should ensure that anything we say about the Christian 
challenge of a contemporary issue is grounded in Eucharistic faith, never 
coming across like a freestanding editorial, detached from the framework of 

A precondition for this openness to the Word is regular— ideally, 
daily— Bible study. For us as preachers (even part-time or occasional preach- 
ers), this is a matter of professional practice, not personal predilection. The 
spiritual nourishment of our people depends on it. 

An even more basic precondition for this openness to the sacred 
text is that we take it to prayer. If we don't pray it, we can't really say it— 
from the heart. What I have not allowed to touch my spirit will not move 

30 * Dennis Hamm, S.J. 

2. Keep up on current events. "The Bible in one hand, newspaper in 
the other" (Karl Barth's maxim, I think) is still good advice for sermon 
preparation. Facts, stories, and quotations from print and electronic media 
do not only engage the imagination and emotion; used appropriately, they 
can provide examples of issues to which our gospel vision speaks. 

3. Get to know Catholic social teaching. Our best-kept secret, some 
have called it. Recent popes— John XXIII, Paul VI, especially John Paul II— 
and our own U.S. bishops have written powerful documents addressing 
current social issues. The recently published Catechism of the Catholic Church 
(especially part 3) summarizes much of this quite well. Familiarity with these 
seminal documents builds confidence and leads to spontaneity in relating 
pertinent church teaching to the readings of the day and to current justice 
issues. And our Sunday homily may be the only place some people ever hear 
of Catholic social teaching. 

4. Learn well our Catholic traditions of the common good and the 
preferential option for the poor. Our recent experience of the U.S. Con- 
gress has vividly taught us that the power of special-interest groups is having 
more effect than the impulse to work for the common good— to the neglect 
of the needs of the poorest among us. Reflection on our classic common- 
good vision will constantly stretch us beyond our vested interests. And it 
won't happen in our nation as a whole if it doesn't first happen within our 

5. Teach the link between discipleship and citizenship. The famous 
"wall of separation between Church and State" (a misrepresentation of the 
First Amendment) was meant to protect religion from government interven- 
tion, not to protect government from participation by religious people. Our 
faith obliges us to be people who exercise our citizenship for the common 
good. An important resource on this theme is the "USCC Statement on 
Political Responsibility." 14 

6. Avoid harping on a limited set of issues. People need to know the 
full depth and range of biblical tradition and Catholic social teaching. 
Nothing turns a listener off faster than reflecting, "There goes Father X 
again, off on his pet cause of . . ." And be content at times to preach 
without any specific reference to peace-and-justice issues. 

7. Highlight our special moment in U.S. history. The obvious task 
of church leadership in the immigrant period of the U.S. Catholic experience 

14 Origins 25, no. 22, (Nov. 16, 1995): 370-83. Stephen L. Carter has written 
provocatively on faith and citizenship in The Culture of Disbelief: How American Law and 
Politics Trivialize Religious Devotion (New York: Doubleday, 1994). 

Preaching Biblical Justice 4* 31 

was to develop the support system that would help our people enter the 
civic mainstream while keeping the faith. We had to prove that Roman 
Catholics could be good U.S. citizens. In many ways the election of a 
Catholic president signaled the achievement of that goal. Since the seventies 
and eighties, our bishops have been saying, in effect, "We have proved that 
we belong; now let's enrich the American dream with our traditions of 
justice and peace. We have much to contribute to the unfinished U.S. 
American democratic experiment." The pastoral letters The Challenge of Peace 
(1983) and Economic Justice for All (1986) were prime examples of this 
leadership. Cardinal Bernardin's advocacy of a consistent ethic of life, 
recently bolstered by John Paul II's Evangelium vitcz, is another example. 
Helping our people become aware of this change in posture toward the 
surrounding culture may aid them see the point of exploring justice-and- 
peace themes at our Sunday worship. 

8. Draw information from sources that are alternatives to the 
mainstream media. The way the standard print and electronic media 
covered Catholic Church presence during recent Latin American revolutions 
was an object lesson to many of us that often mainstream journalism is not a 
trustworthy source of information. Other sources— for example, The National 
Catholic Reporter, The Tablet, The National Jesuit News, New Oxford Review, 
National Public Radio, America, and Commonweal— often provide what is 
lacking in other public reports when we are looking for perspective on 
current issues. 15 

9. Help people see that all political parties fall short of the gospel 
vision. A church position on one particular issue may have a "Republican" 
or "conservative" ring, while church teaching on another issue may sound 
"Democratic" or "liberal." If we faithfully relate the gospel vision to current 
issues over the long haul, people will soon see that our faith vision calls us 
beyond all party platforms. The Gospel is neither "right" nor "left." It is 

15 Other useful sources: advocacy groups like Network: A National Catholic 
Social Justice Lobby, 801 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Suite 460, Washington, DC 20003, (202) 
547-5556 // Center of Concern, 3700 Thirteenth Street NE, Washington, DC 20017, (202) 
635-2757 // Pax Christi USA: National Catholic Peace Movement, 348 East Tenth Street, 
Erie, PA 16503-1110, (814) 453-4955 // Bread for the World, 1100 Wayne Avenue, Suite 
1000, Silver Spring, MD 20910, (301) 608-2400 // and the Religious Task Force on 
Central America, 1747 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20009-1108, (202) 
387-7652 // Worldwatch Institute, 1776 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 
20077-6628 (among other things, they publish an annual report— the 1996 edition is 
thirteenth in the series— called State of the World: A Worldwatch Institute Report on Progress 
toward a Sustainable Society) II and Sojourners (a magazine and a grassroots network for 
personal, community, and political transformation: 2401 15th Street NW, Washington, 
DC 20009). 

32 •*• Dennis Hamm, SJ. 

radical, that is to say, rooted in the death and resurrection of Jesus. On the 
vision of justice that guides us, the recent Jesuit congregation makes this 
helpful observation: "It is deeply rooted in the Scriptures, Church tradition, 
and our Ignatian heritage. It transcends notions of justice derived from 
ideology, philosophy, or particular political movements, which can never be 
an adequate expression of the justice of the Kingdom for which we are called 
to struggle at the side of our Companion and King." 16 Sometimes an ostensi- 
bly Roman Catholic candidate or official does not truly represent church 
teaching. And some congregations may need to be informed that the so- 
called Catholic Alliance of the Christian Coalition has no valid claim to 
official connection with the Catholic Church. 

10. Don't fear revealing a personal position of conscience. In a matter 
of public policy about which people of faith can differ intelligently, it will 
not hurt, and may help, to share with the community your stand on the 
issue, without implying that they must take the same stand. To do so 
reminds people that we are called to come to a reasoned position of con- 
science in debatable matters, and that we can help one another by sharing 
with one another how we come to our positions. Our use of military force 
in the Gulf War was a recent example. The death penalty is another. 

11. Don't overload the Sunday homily. The homily is meant to fan 
the flame of faith, to help the worshiping community realize what we do at 
Eucharist. A sermon may do no more than plant a seed, deepen a symbol, 
point to a connection with public policy. The full harvest of action for 
justice depends on what goes on in classrooms, RCIA, adult education, social- 
needs committees, study groups, and involvement in such advocacy and 
service groups as Pax Christi, Birthright, Bread for the World, Amnesty 
International, and Network. But the seed must be planted. 

12. Think of preaching as a matter both of cultural accommodation 
and cultural critique. The secular culture in which we U.S. Americans live 
prizes choice, mobility, and the maximizing of profit over the dignity of the 
human person in community. Our religious tradition also values choice, 
mobility, and profit, but always insofar as these things serve the dignity of each 
human person in community. Catholic social teaching is not a fringe item but 
mainstream magisterium. Moreover, it affirms values sorely needed for the 
recovery of community and the survival of democracy. Preaching biblical 
justice leaves none of this out. Rather, such preaching provides the full 

16 GC 34, "Our Mission and Justice," in The Documents of the Thirty-Fourth 
General Congregation of the Society of Jesus (St. Louis: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1995), 
§53 (p. 40). 

Preaching Biblical Justice 4* 33 

context for Catholic social teaching and roots it in the deeper tradition of 
our Scripture and in the action of our communal worship. 


I submit this essay for publication with some reluctance. What Jesuit is 
comfortable preaching to Jesuits? Even more, what Jesuit dares to preach 
to Jesuits about preaching? Beyond that, what Jesuit would expose 
publicly a batch of his homily notes as examples? I have dared to do this 
because I am convinced that our convoluted discussions about implementing 
our commitment to the promotion of justice and the service of faith have, 
by and large, neglected the role preaching can play in this understanding of 
our mission today. 

This effort to share some of the fruits of my own limited experience 
has helped me realize a number of things. Vatican II's revival of the biblical 
homily, and the consequent renewal of the lectionary, has helped us recover 
the awareness that an integral part of the ordained priesthood is the preach- 
ing of the word, the whole word. The study of biblical language and imag- 
ery has helped us understand that the theme of covenant justice in the Bible, 
linked with the postbiblical tradition of Catholic social teaching, provides 
for us the best possible lens for understanding and addressing current justice- 
and-peace issues. Moreover, it is becoming clear that our preaching is not 
simply a matter of adapting our ministry to our culture but also of minister- 
ing to a culture itself in need of healing. A lifetime of ongoing preaching 
may be one of the most powerful expressions of this healing ministry. If 
"culture" means "the way in which a group of people live, think, feel, 
organize themselves, celebrate and share life," then biblical preaching is 
surely one way of ministering to our culture. 17 Such preaching deals with the 
very images and feelings with which persons and communities experience 
and express their faith. The preaching of biblical justice, then, ministers to 
the very cultural infrastructure of a community's faith life. Preaching biblical 
justice can also vivify the secular culture in which we participate, even as it 
nurtures, in some respects, a kind of counterculture challenging that larger 
culture where the Gospel prompts such challenging. To paraphrase what 
Chesterton said about jury duty, preaching biblical justice is too important 
to leave to the experts. 

17 This is the definition of "culture" offered in the first footnote of Decree 4, 
"Our Mission and Culture," in The Documents of the Thirty-Fourth General Congregation of 
the Society of Jesus, §75 n. 1 (p. 49). 

Past Issues: Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 

(For prices, see inside back cover.) 

1/1 Sheets, Profile of the Contemporary Jesuit (Sept. 1969) 

1/2 Ganss, Authentic Spiritual Exercises: History and Terminology (Nov. 1969) 

2/1 Burke, Institution and Person (Feb. 1970) 

2/2 Futrell, Ignatian Discernment (Apr. 1970) 

2/3 Lonergan, Response of the Jesuit as Priest and Apostle (Sept. 1970) 

3/1 Wright, Grace of Our Founder and the Grace of Our Vocation (Feb. 1971) 

3/2 O'Flaherty, Some Reflections on Jesuit Commitment (Apr. 1971) 

3/3 Clarke, Jesuit Commitment— Fraternal Covenant? Haughey, Another Perspective on Religious 

Commitment (June 1971)— OUT OF PRINT 
3/4 Toner, A Method for Communal Discernment of God's Will (Sept. 1971) 
3/5 Sheets, Toward a Theology of the Religious Life (Nov. 1971) 
4/1 Knight, St. Ignatius' Ideal of Poverty (Jan. 1972)— OUT OF PRINT 
4/2 Two Discussions: I. Spiritual Direction, II. Leadership and Authority (Mar. 1972) 
4/3 Orsy, Some Questions about the Purpose and Scope of the General Congregation (June 1972) 
4/4 Ganss, Wright, O'Malley, O'Donovan, Dulles, On Continuity and Change: A Symposium 

(Oct. 1972) 
4/5 Futrell, Communal Discernment: Reflections on Experience (Nov. 1972)— OUT OF PRINT 
5/1-2 O'Flaherty, Renewal: Call and Response (Jan.-Mar. 1973) 
5/3 Arrupe, McNaspy, The Place of Art in Jesuit Life (Apr. 1973) 
5/4 Haughey, The Pentecostal Thing and Jesuits (June 1973) 

5/5 Orsy, Toward a Theological Evaluation of Communal Discernment (Oct. 1973) 
6/1-2 Padberg, The General Congregations of the Society of Jesus: A Brief Survey of Their History 

(Jan.-Mar. 1974)— OUT OF PRINT 
6/3 Knight, Joy and Judgment in Religious Obedience (Apr. 1974) 
6/4 Toner, The Deliberation That Started the Jesuits (June 1974)— OUT OF PRINT 
6/5 Schmitt, The Christ-Experience and Relationship Fostered in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius 

of Loyola (Oct. 1974)— OUT OF PRINT 
7/1 Wright, Ganss, Orsy, On Thinking with the Church Today (Jan. 1975) 
7/2 Ganss, Christian Life Communities from the Sodalities (Mar. 1975) 
7/3 Connolly, Contemporary Spiritual Direction: Scope and Principles (June 1975) 
7/4 Clarke, Ignatian Spirituality and Societal Consciousness; Orsy, Faith and Justice: Some 

Reflections (Sept. 1975)— OUT OF PRTNT 
7/5 Buckley, The Confirmation of a Promise; Padberg, Continuity and Change in General 

Congregation XXXII (Nov. 1975) 
8/1 O'Neill, Acatamiento: Ignatian Reverence (Jan. 1976) 
8/2-3 De la Costa, Sheridan, and others, On Becoming Poor: A Symposium on Evangelical Poverty 

(Mar.-May 1976) 
8/4 Faricy, Jesuit Community: Community of Prayer (Oct. 1976) 

8/5 Buckley, Jesuit Priesthood: Its Meaning and Commitments (Dec. 1976)— OUT OF PRTNT 
9/1-2 Becker, Changes in U.S. Jesuit Membership, 1958-75; Others, Reactions and Explanations 

(Jan.-Mar. 1977) 
9/3 Harvanek, The Reluctance to Admit Sin (May 1977)— OUT OF PRINT 
9/4 Connolly, Land, Jesuit Spiritualities and the Struggle for Social Justice (Sept. 1977). 
9/5 Gill, A Jesuit's Account of Conscience (Nov. 1977) 

10/1 Kammer, "Burn-Out"— Dilemma for the Jesuit Social Activist (Jan. 1978) 
10/2-3 Barry, Birmingham, Connolly, Fahey, Finn, Gill, Affectivity and Sexuality (Mar.-May 1978)— 

Out of Print 

10/4 Harvanek, Status of Obedience in the Society of Jesus; Others, Reactions to Connolly-Land 

(Sept. 1978) 

10/5 Padberg, Personal Experience and the Spiritual Exercises: The Example of Saint Ignatius (Nov. 

1978)— Out of Print 

11/1 Clancy, Feeling Bad about Feeling Good (Jan. 1979) 

11/2 Maruca, Our Personal Witness as Power to Evangelize Culture (Mar. 1979) 

11/3 Klein, American Jesuits and the Liturgy (May 1979) 

11/4 Buckley, Mission in Companionship (Sept. 1979)— OUT OF PRINT 

11/5 Conwell, The Kamikaze Factor: Choosing Jesuit Ministries (Nov. 1979) 

12/1 Clancy, Veteran Witnesses: Their Experience of Jesuit Life (Jan. 1980)— OUT OF PRINT 

12/2 Henriot, Appleyard, Klein, Living Together in Mission: A Symposium on Small Apostolic 

Communities (Mar. 1980) 

12/3 Conwell, Living and Dying in the Society of Jesus (May 1980) 

12/4-5 Schineller, Newer Approaches to Christology and Their Use in the Spiritual Exercises (Sept. -Nov. 


13/1 Peter, Alcoholism in Jesuit Life (Jan. 1981) 

13/2 Begheyn, A Bibliography on St. Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises (Mar. 1981)— OUT OF PRINT 

13/3 Ganss, Towards Understanding the Jesuit Brothers' Vocation (May 1981) 

13/4 Reites, St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Jews (Sept. 1981) 

13/5 O'Brien, The Jesuits and Catholic Higher Education (Nov. 1981)— OUT OF PRINT 

14/1 O'Malley, The Jesuits, St. Ignatius, and the Counter Reformation (Jan. 1982) 

14/2 Dulles, St. Ignatius and Jesuit Theological Tradition (Mar. 1982) 

14/3 Robb, Conversion as a Human Experience (May 1982)— OUT OF PRINT 

14/4 Gray, An Experience in Ignatian Government (Sept. 1982) 

14/5 Ivern, The Future of Faith and Justice: Review of Decree Four (Nov. 1982) 

15/1 O'Malley, The Fourth Vow in Its Ignatian Context (Jan. 1983) 

15/2 Sullivan and Faricy, On Making the Spiritual Exercises for Renewal of Jesuit Charisms (Mar. 


15/3-4 Padberg, The Society True to Itself: A Brief History of the 32nd General Congregation of the 

Society of Jesus (May-Sept. 1983) 

15/5-16/1 Tetlo w, Jesuits' Mission in Higher Education (Nov. 1983-Jan. 1984) 

16/2 O'Malley, To Travel to Any Part of the World: Jeronimo Nadal and the Jesuit Vocation (Mar. 


16/3 O'Hanlon, Integration of Christian Practices: A Western Christian Looks East (May 1984) 

16/4 Carlson, "A Faith Lived Out of Doors": Ongoing Formation (Sept. 1984) 

16/5 Kinerk, Eliciting Great Desires: Their Place in the Spirituality of the Society of Jesus (Nov. 1984) 

17/1 Spohn, St. Paul on Apostolic Celibacy and the Body of Christ (Jan. 1985) 

17/2 Daley, "In Ten Thousand Places": Christian Universality and the Jesuit Mission (Mar. 1985) 

17/3 Tetlow, Dialogue on the Sexual Maturing of Celibates (May 1985) 

17/4 Spohn, Coleman, Clarke, Henriot, Jesuits and Peacemaking (Sept. 1985) 

17/5 Kinerk, When Jesuits Pray: A Perspective on the Prayer of Apostolic Persons (Nov. 1985) 

18/1 Gelpi, The Converting Jesuit (Jan. 1986). 

18/2 Beirne, Compass and Catalyst: The Ministry of Administration. (Mar. 1986) 

18/3 McCormick, Bishops as Teachers and Jesuits as Listeners (May 1986) 

18/4 McDermott, With Him, In Him: Graces of the Spiritual Exercises (Sept. 1986)— OUT OF PRINT 

18/5 Tetlow, The Transformation of Jesuit Poverty (Nov. 1986). 

19/1 Staudenmaier, United States Technology and Adult Commitment (Jan. 1987) 

19/2 Appleyard, Languages We Use: Talking about Religious Experience (Mar. 1987) 

19/3 Harmless and Gelpi, Priesthood Today and the Jesuit Vocation (May 1987) 

19/4 Haight, Foundational Issues in Jesuit Spirituality (Sept. 1987)— OUT OF PRINT 

19/5 Endean, Who Do You Say Ignatius Is? Jesuit Fundamentalism and Beyond (Nov. 1987) 

20/1 Brackley, Downward Mobility: Social Implications of St. Ignatius's Two Standards (Jan. 1988) 

20/2 Padberg, How We Live Where We Live (Mar. 1988) 

20/3 Hayes, Padberg, Staudenmaier, Symbols, Devotions, and Jesuits (May 1988) 

20/4 McGovern, Jesuit Education and Jesuit Spirituality (Sept. 1988) 

20/5 Barry, Jesuit Formation Today: An Invitation to Dialogue and Involvement (Nov. 1988) 

21/1 Wilson, Where Do We Belong? United States Jesuits and Their Memberships (Jan. 1989) 

21/2 Demoustier, Calvez, et al., The Disturbing Subject: The Option for the Poor (Mar. 1989) 

21/3 Soukup, Jesuit Response to the Communication Revolution (May 1989) 

21/4 Tetlow, The Fundamentum: Creation in the Principle and Foundation (Sept. 1989) 

21/5 Past and Present Seminar Members, Jesuits Praying: Personal Reflections (Nov. 1989)— OUT OF 


22/1 Carroll, The Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (Jan. 1990) 

22/2 Bracken, Jesuit Spirituality from a Process Prospective (March 1990) 

22/3 Shepherd, Fire for a Weekend: An Experience of the Exercises (May 1990) 

22/4 O'Sullivan, Trust Your Feelings, but Use Your Head (Sept. 1990) 

22/5 Coleman, A Company of Critics: Jesuits and the Intellectual Life (Nov. 1990) 

23/1 Houdek, The Road Too Often Traveled (Jan. 1991) 

23/2 DiGiacomo, Ministering to the Young (March 1991) 

23/3 Begheyn and Bogart, A Bibliography on St. Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises (May 1991) 

23/4 Shelton, Reflections on the Mental Health of Jesuits (Sept. 1991) 

23/5 Toolan, "Nature Is a Heraclitean Fire" (Nov. 1991) 

24/1 Houdek, Jesuit Prayer and Jesuit Ministry: Context and Possibilities (Jan. 1992) 

24/2 Smolich, Testing the Water: Jesuits Accompanying the Poor (March 1992) 

24/3 Hassel, Jesus Christ Changing Yesterday, Today, and Forever (May 1992) 

24/4 Shelton, Toward Healthy Jesuit Community Living (Sept. 1992) 

24/5 Cook, Jesus' Parables and the Faith That Does Justice (Nov. 1992) 

25/1 Clancy, Saint Ignatius as Fund-Raiser (Jan. 1993)— OUT OF PRINT 

25/2 Donahue, What Does the Lord Require? (March 1993)— ONCE AGAIN AVAILABLE 

25/3 Padberg, Ignatius, the Popes, and Realistic Reverence (May 1993) 

25/4 Stahel, Toward General Congregation 34 (Sept. 1993) 

25/5 Baldovin, Christian Liturgy: An Annotated Bibliography (Nov. 1993) 

26/1 Tetlow, The Most Postmodern Prayer (Jan. 1994) 

26/2 Murphy, The Many Ways of Justice (March 1994) 

26/3 Staudenmaier, To Fall in Love with the World (May 1994) 

26/4 Foley, Stepping into the River (Sept. 1994) 

26/5 Landy, Myths That Shape Us (Nov. 1994) 

27/1 Daley, "To Be More like Christ" (Jan. 1995) 

27/2 Schmidt, Portraits and Landscapes (March 1995) 

27/3 Stockhausen, I'd Love to, but I Don't Have the Time (May 1995) 

27/4 Anderson, Jesuits in Jail, Ignatius to the Present (Sept. 1995) 

27/5 Shelton, Friendship in Jesuit Life (Nov. 1995) 

28/1 Begheyn, Bibliography on the History of the Jesuits (Jan. 1996) 

28/2 Veale, Saint Ignatius Speaks about "Ignatian Prayer" (March 1996) 

28/3 Clooney, In Ten Thousand Places, in Every Blade of Grass (May 1996) 

28/4 Starkloff, "As Different As Night and Day" (Sept. 1996) 

28/5 Beckett, Listening to Our History (Nov. 1996) 

29/1 Hamm, Preaching Biblical Justice (Jan. 1997) 



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| Baroque Dance on the Jesuit Staae in Vans 


For more than one hundred years, in the 
j seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the students of 
| Louis-le-Grand, the great Jesuit school in Paris, presented 
i for the general public and to great acclaim from one to 
j four dramas and ballets a year. 

This is the first extensive study in English of this 
j contribution to the cultural, educational, and religious life 
| of France, and even to its political life, when dance was 
j the most popular of the French theater arts. 

The author, Judith Rock, is a performer, 
i choreographer, writer, teacher, and consultant who has 
i worked in both dance and theater for twenty years and 
! has gained a doctorate in theology and the arts. 

viii +212 pages / ISBN 1-880810-22-0 / Paperback 

$22.95 plus $3.50 shipping 

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